By Bukar Bolori
United Nations on Monday called on Nigerian government to harness the mediation capacities of women in resolving some of the crises bedeviling the nation.
It said as the country moves towards 2023 elections and may have to grapple with multiple conflicts and crises, the place of women as mother of all and key to unwind the stoniest of hearts becomes very important.
UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, speaking at a programme on Strengthening State Capacities and Women’s Participation in COVID-19 Response and Broader Peace Building Initiatives organized UN Women and UK Government in Abuja, said women are important tools in bringing solution to the problem of insecurity Nigeria is currently facing.
She said: “You will agree that this convening is very timely, as Nigeria is presently grappling with various forms of insecurity and seeking non-military solutions. As we begin the journey towards the 2023 elections, more emphasis on the national peacebuilding architecture and tools for conflict prevention and resolution is critical.”
According to her, evidence has shown that having women at the peace table generates greater buy-in and strengthens accountability for implementation.
Lamptey said studies indicate that peace processes that include women as mediators, witnesses, signatories, or negotiators are 35% more likely to last 15 years.
She added that Women’s participation makes peace more durable because, with their input, agreements go beyond the realm of power to the realities of people.
She said: “In addition, women can provide cross-state experience sharing, especially those who have engaged in the farmer-herder conflict in the Middle Belt and can provide support to women in the South, where the conflict is shifting.
She however decried that the gaps, in terms of inclusion and meaningful participation of women in formal peace processes have continued to be glaring despite policies and action plans.
She also lamented that the Nigeria’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325, which has been domesticated in 14 states to date, and which underlines the principle of equal participation of women in peace and security processes have recorded limited success in the country in achieving the goal of equal participation of women in decision making around peace and security.
She said: “Mediation and dialogue remain crucial tools in our arsenal of approaches to the challenges and crises facing this country. Nigeria’s peacebuilding architecture is taking shape, and there is an increasing availability of formal peacebuilding structures at federal and state levels through which to drive conflict prevention and resolution efforts. Consequently, we are seeing a deepening of efforts to utilize dialogue and mediation to address various crises.”
In her presentation, Dame Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, said the various violent conflicts in Nigeria have claimed many lives, caused properties worth millions of Naira to be destroyed and brought about untold hardship to the people as well as cause socio-economic backwardness in the country.
She said: “No doubt, women and children, including girls are most negatively impacted by the effects of these violent conflicts. This is why we must continue to support their inclusion in peace building processes at all levels.
“You will all agree with me that women possess the required management, negotiation and reconciliation abilities, which is often seen in their day to day peace mediation in the home front and even within the communities.”
She noted that most of the causes of the conflicts in Nigeria have been connected to struggles for identity and resources even though they are avoidable.
Dr.Chris Kwaja, while presenting findings on the “Assessment of the Utilization of Dialogue and Mediation on Response to Farmers/Herders Conflict in Kaduna and Plateau States with a Focus on the Participation of Women”, said despite the abundant skills women possess for mediation in the current conflicts between farmers and herders, they have not been fully harnessed.
According to him, practices that are linked to patriarchy, religion and culture were identifies as some of the major hindrances to effective women’s participation in dialogue and mediation that address the farmer herder conflicts across the state .